15 March 2017

DatascapeVR Released!


We officially released DatascapeVR (aka Datascape v2.1) today.

The big feature is the "Publish to Web" button. This takes your visualisation (up to around 5000 points) and publishes to the web via WebGL. The system gives you a unique URL which you can share with friends and colleagues and they just click on this and the 3d visualisation opens up in their browser AND they can fly through and around the visualisation just as you can on the desktop version. This is a "view only" mode at the moment, they can't change the visualisation, or interact with it beyond clicking on a point for the hover text, but we can add more features if there is the demand.


It doesn't stop there though. Since we're using WebGL it also means that you can view the visualisation on smartphone. And clicking on the VR mode option brings up a stereoscopic display so you can drop the phone into your Google Cardboard and explore the visualisation in full VR!

We have a video demo/tutorial and you can request a free 21 day trial from our brand new DatascapeVR website.

And if you want to see what a WebGL data visualisation looks like in your browser right now - just click on this link: http://live.datascapevr.com/viewer/?wid=26417d10-3d94-43d8-936b-22298153bee9




6 March 2017

Fieldscapes at Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education Conference 2017



The Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education Conference is a long standing virtual event looking at the use of virtual worlds and 3D immersive environments in education. Whilst much of the early VWBPE was in Second Life, Wonderland and other virtual worlds - and VWBPE main hub is still in Second Life, the conference now includes other environments - such as our own Fieldscapes.

We have two Fieldscapes contributions to the conference:


  • On 31st March at 6pm UK time, 1000 SLT/CET we have a presentation on Fieldscapes, and since the theme of the conference is "Legacy" we'll look at how Fieldscapes grew out of our early work in Second Life and Open Sim.
  • On 4th April at 9pm UK time, 1300 SLT/CET we are hosting a "virtual field trip" to a "virtual field trip" when we invite delegates into Fieldscapes to experience a couple of our lessons, and then leave then to play with the editor.

You can find out more about, and sign up to, VWPE2017 at https://vwbpe.org/ and details of the virtual field trip and associated Passport to the Metaverse are at https://vwbpe.org/vwbpe-news/vwbpe-2017-immersive-experiences-and-passport-to-the-metaverse.

Daniel and Humza Work Experience

By: Daniel and Humza, Yr10, AUEA

On the 13th of February, we arrived at the Daden office and were introduced to Nash and Sean. Sean and Nash were going to be the ones helping us learn and develop skills in software testing and also using different software such as Unity 3D. For the first day we learned the basics of Fieldscapes, one of Daden's products that allow to go on a virtual fieldtrip. In our opinion Fieldscapes is easy to learn and understand. Fieldscapes also has a wiki one can reference if they need help.

On the second day we were a given one tasks to complete for the week. Firstly we asked to test Fieldscapes and look for bugs in the software. During our testing we were also asked to think of an experience we would to create using Fieldscapes. We created a mind map of all the ideas that we had. In the end, we agreed to use Pokémon because of the endless ideas that we had that would work well by adjusting Pokémon.

  



On the third day we started to download 3d models of Pokémon and import into Unity. Once they were imported, we had to adjust their length and widths so they would be able to fit onto our world. We downloaded about 15 Pokémon alongside buildings and a small city.

On the fourth day, after we sorted out our Pokémon, we started to work on the landscape. We were showed how to access the Unity Asset Store to see the terrains we would use. We chose a grass terrain and edited it to fit in with our planning diagram. We changed the middle area to be flat for the city, with mountains covering the outside.



On the final day, we imported both the terrain and Pokémon onto a Fieldscapes and started to create settings for each Pokémon. For example if you were to tap on one it would make a sound and show the details about it. Instead of repeating this for each Pokémon, we used the clone tool when we found the location to hide them, they were given the same properties. We used unity in order for us to adjust and resize the models of the Pokémon.

We also were able to use the Oculus Rift to explore the world we have made and all the Pokémon that we have inserted in virtual reality


Overall we have enjoyed week here and everyone was kind and helpful.

17 February 2017

Fieldscapes in Space!



We built a big star box for our Comet 67P visualisation a while back, and ever since we've wanted to put the whole solar system in it. So we've finally got around to creating a planets inventory which has a prop for each planet in the solar system, plus the sun and moon. In fact several planets have two models, so you can have one set where the planets are to true scale (with Earth at 1m Jupiter is huge!), and another where they just show as being a bit bigger or smaller (so Jupiter is only 2 x Earth).

You can set the planets spinning about their own axis by using the Auto-Rotate widget, and set different, realistic, speeds for each planet. You can't yet set them in orbit about the sun, but perhaps we'll work on that (most likely another set of props which include an invisible "radius stick" that you can set rotating - although it means a fixed size for the orrery.

Of course if you want different planets (or moons) you can just use the SetImage function to paste a whole globe image (real or imagined) onto any of these spheres to make you own planets or moons up!

We'll hopefully also add in the major planetary moons to a later release.

Do let us know how you use it - for instance we want to set up a solar system model along Carding Mill valley!

And of course you can see all this in VR too with Oculus Rift.



16 February 2017

VR in Education - Tech Edvocate on the NMC Horizon Report


Nice piece from The Tech Edvocate web site on 3 technologies making their way into education: VR, Robotics and Wearables, presenting the findings of the New Media Consortium Horizon Report released recently.

On VR it says:

"2016 was the year that educators began to focus on virtual reality for application in schools. Overall, the market for virtual reality is booming. It’s estimated that revenue from entertainment-related virtual reality will hit $3.2 billion by 2025, with the education arena attracting a whopping 15 million users.

With the recent launch of devices from Sony, Oculus, and HTC, 2016 revenue from equipment sales were estimated to reach $895 million for the year. The vast majority of sales were due to the release of premium devices from these brands. The stage has been set for the education sector to incorporate virtual reality into K-12 curriculum easily.

Serving in educational environments, virtual reality is positioned to begin being used to produce engaging field trip settings. Incorporation of stimulating student-led research, instruction and activities is what educators are interested in with VR, for the coming year. Virtual reality appears to be a promising tool enabling students to become the master of their learning by way of experimental, collaborative experiences."

Couldn't agree more!





15 February 2017

Datascape in AltSpaceVR


For my last DadenU day exercise just before Christmas I decided to take a look at how to get Datascape data visualisations into the AltSpaceVR social virtual reality (SocialVR) virtual world. AltSpaceVR has always looked an interesting space as it has "enclosures" - spaces within their designed spaces that you can assign a URL to, and if that URL leads to a WebGL or AFrame (see an earlier DadenU project) page then that 3D scene is rendered inside the AltSpaceVR space. Neat!

With Datascape v2.1 we have the ability to publish visualisations to the web, and then view then either in 2D in a browser using WebGL, or switch into split-screen mode to view in Google Cardboard. So since we can do that getting something to work in AltSpaceVR should be relatively trivial, and it was.

To keep the file simple I decided to write a small Perl script to take the Datascape export/publishing format (just a list of points) and convert it into AFrame. A bit of playing around to get sizes right but I soon had some DNS data in AltSpaceVR - and being able to walk around and through it with Oculus Rift was pretty neat and very immersive.




The next challenge was to see if we could get scenery items in, so we brought in some USGS earthquake data against the globe.



Being on your own in AltSpaceVR is not what its all about so we later met up with a colleague in Spain, so there two of us were able to walk around the data, and talk on voice in a true collaborative 3D VR data analysis session.



We'll continue to mature the export to AltSpaceVR and hopefully incorporate it as a feature in v2.2, and possibly an unsupported add-on for v2.1 at some point before that.

We are also looking at having some sort of a a VR Data Viz/Analytics meet in AltSpaceVR to discuss what we are doing, and anyone else who is playing in this space - details to follow.




Fieldscapes at 35,000ft


Just to prove that you can use Fieldscapes anywhere I fired up the Introduction to Cardingmill Valley exercise up at 35,000ft in a Boeing 787 Dreamliner somewhere over the Persian Gulf (see the flight tracker map in the seat-back for evidence!)